“I am Valdil of Lothlorien.”
“Well, Valdil of Lothlorien, your sword is not in the right position and is threatening to fall out of its sheath.”
Valdil looked at the floor again, embarrased that a maiden had noticed that he wasn’t experienced with a sword. He was only on his first journey out of his homeland after all, and he wanted to make a good first impression.
Sáralissë frowned at Keluial and said softly, “I wish you would stop saying things like that.” She sighed and looked at the ground. She never had quite enough courage to stand up to her older cousin.
Keluial’s eyes darted to Sáralissë and then back to Valdil, who was now looking back up at her. She let out a warm smile and spoke to Valdil in a whisper, as if she didn’t want to be heard.
“You are not very familiar with a sword, are you?”
Valdil did not know what he should say. He felt both ashamed, embarrassed, and slightly angry. He wanted to say something that would make the lady stop insulting him, without hurting the maiden’s feelings.
“I have been taught how to swordfight since I have been a small child, though I have not seen battle yet.”
“Let me make a proposition. You and I wiil have a… duel, a contest of both of our swordfighting skills. If you lose, I will help you become better so you can beat me. If you win, I will…” She paused, thinking of a possible reward, “I will give you my knife.”
Valdil raised his eyebrows, his face had an expression of pure surprise on it as he listened to Keluial speak. He thought that this must be some sort of trick.
“Surely, you are not permitted to swordfight?”
“No, I am not allowed to. My parents only tolerate me carrying a weapon, and they do not know I use it.”
“Then how could you possibly fight me?”
“I know of a very secret place where the fight can be. It is a clearing deep in the forest, and none have come there except me and a friend for years.”
Sáralissë watched the two elves converse apprehensively. Why was Keluial suggesting something so drastic? Why was Valdil agreeing with the absurd idea.
Valdil pondered Keluial’s words for some while in his head. Keluial seemed to be getting impatient, when she suddenly let out a small exclamation.
“Oh, I completely forgot.. Mother wanted to speak to me.” She walked off for a little distance, but then turned towards the confused Valdil and Sáralissë and said, “The fight will continue until first blood. I will expect your answer tomorrow.” This time she walked away, and did not look back.
The next day, Valdil sat on a terrace watching the sunrise. He thought it rather strange, as he saw it coming over the mountians. Usually he watched the sun set behind when he was at home. He heard feet behind him, and he turned to see his father, Dinril, beckonig to him. Valdil stood up, and went to his father’s side.
“Valdil, you need to come with me,” The older elf walked forward, looking straight ahead, away from Valdil.
“Lord Elrond is expecting visitors soon. He does not know when they will be here, so he needs to be ready when they do come. I do not want young elves like you getting in the way,” Dinril stopped and looked into his son’s eyes, “I also have something important to tell you.”
Valdil looked inquiringly at his father, but he had already turned around. The two elves walked to a small room, on the edge of Rivendell. They entered the room, Valdil’s room, and sat down on chairs near a window. Valdil looked up into his father’s eyes and wondered when he would speak. Dinril seemed troubled, and hesitant. Valdil was curious about what made the other worried, but he did not speak. Finally, after what seemed an eternity to Valdil, he spoke.
“Valdil, have you heard any rumors about you and the elf maiden Sáralissë?”
“Yes, I have. Several people seem to think that we are betrothed.”
“You probably do not know this, but I have obtained permission for you to court her. She appears to be a nice elf, and she has no family to support her, except an uncle. I know I should have asked you first, but it looked as if like you were liked her.” Dinril looked out of the window, unwilling to look back at his son.
Valdil gasped, then he laughed. This must have been what Lossewen had meant. Perhaps she overheard the conversation and misunderstood. He couldn’t believe his father had done this though on his first night in Rivendell.
“Is that all?”
“Y-yes. Go ahead and find her…Sáralissë. She probably knows by now also.”
Valdil left the room with an uncertain look on his face and confusion in his head. What would he say when he met her? Did she even want to talk to him? He sat down on a chair in the hallway, and wondered what he should do.